Rising literacy puts Saudi Arabia on path to equality, prosperity

Updated 09 September 2018

Rising literacy puts Saudi Arabia on path to equality, prosperity

  • Saudi Arabia leads many Arab and Asian countries in achieving literacy targets.
  • About 750 million young people and adults — two-third of whom are women — cannot read and write, laments UNESCO chief 

RIYADH:  Saudi Arabia celebrated International Literacy Day on Saturday with a pledge to raise its literacy rate from 94.4 percent to 100 percent in the near future.

With illiteracy rates cut to below 5.6 percent, the Kingdom leads many Arab and Asian countries in achieving literacy targets.

The current 94.4 percent literacy rate was achieved while boosting enrolment in thousands of schools, vocational colleges and universities with the aim of achieving 100 percent literacy in the near future.

The Ministry of Education on Saturday said that a major “Lifelong Learning Initiative” was part of Vision 2030, targeting men and women with the sole aim of eradicating illiteracy.

International Literacy Day was celebrated worldwide under the banner of “Literacy and Skills Development.” Despite progress, literacy challenges persist, while demands for skilled work evolve rapidly.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) promotes literacy day to underline the significance of literacy in the development of all nations.

Referring to the efforts of government agencies, the Education Ministry said that “there is added focus on adult education, which is in response to the need of the community and the local market.

More than 15,450 adults attend adult education centers in the Kingdom where they receive training in about 680 vocational programs. This is in addition to the growing number of students in primary and secondary schools across the Kingdom.

The ministry said that “literacy is at the heart of basic education for all and essential in eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development and peace.”

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO director-general, said: “Today, worldwide, more than 260 million children and adolescents are not enrolled in school, while six out of 10 children and adolescents — around 617 million — fail to acquire the minimum skills in literacy and numeracy.”

Azoulay said that about 750 million young people and adults — two-third of whom are women — cannot read and write. 

The UNESCO chief called on education leaders to “make the ideal of a fully literate global society a reality.”

“The literacy rate of the Kingdom has significantly improved,” said Prof. Abdulkarim Al-Shaikh, a faculty member at the King Saud University.

“The Saudi government has launched many initiatives to promote and encourage education and skill development. These will go a long way in contributing to the development of our nation,” he said.

Higher education programs are being pushed in line with the objectives of Vision 2030. The allocation of SR192 billion ($51 billion) to the education sector in the 2018 annual budget reflects King Salman’s determination to ensure literacy and education opportunities in the Kingdom.


Preserving heritage means securing the future, says Princess Haifa

Updated 05 July 2020

Preserving heritage means securing the future, says Princess Haifa

  • Saudi Arabia is at the 209th session to discuss international issues related to the fields of education, science and culture

PARIS: Princess Haifa bint Abdul Aziz Al-Muqrin, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to UNESCO, said that changes can only be faced with global efforts to achieve the common goals of promoting peace, building cultural bridges between nations, and empowering societies to guarantee a better future.

Saudi Arabia recently participated in the 209th session of the UNESCO Executive Council at the agency’s Paris headquarters. The Kingdom was represented at the session by Princess Haifa and a team of 26 Saudi experts from different sectors that have activities related to the scope of UNESCO’s work, such as education, culture, energy, environment, and training.

Princess Haifa said: “Despite our different cultures and languages, we share our belief that education is a right for everyone, that preserving heritage means securing the future, and that innovation and science are the bridge that will pull us out of this pandemic the world today is living.”

She said that the Kingdom supported African countries and was ready to share its experiences in various UNESCO fields, in addition to supporting action plans related to developing islands as one of its priorities in exchanging experiences, especially since the Kingdom is one of the most advanced countries in the world in the field of water desalination.

Reference was made to the Kingdom’s support for international growth and stability through the G20 presidency, specifically with regard to ensuring the continuity of education in crises, the continuation of efforts to achieve climate adaptation worldwide, and solidarity with the members of the G20 in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a member state of the UNESCO Executive Council, Saudi Arabia is at the 209th session to discuss international issues related to the fields of education, science and culture. These will be evaluated and decided upon, and the executive decisions assigned to them will be voted on, in cooperation with the council’s member states.

The Kingdom’s participation in the meetings of the UNESCO Executive Council also comes as part of its permanent presence in the international cultural and educational organization since its foundation in 1946.